Undervalued First Basemen: 2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
Yesterday, I wrote about three first basemen that I thought most fantasy baseball experts were ranking too high, and thus could potentially disappoint compared to their preseason rank.
Today, I’ll talk about three guys who I think are not ranked high enough, thus they are players you might be able to wait on a couple rounds and draft as sleepers with great value.
In limited playing time during his first full season in the big leagues last year, Matt Adams performed well. He hit .284 with 17 HR and 51 RBI in just over 100 games played. A combination of a crowded St. Louis outfield and Allen Craig’s injury-plagued second half, which restricted him to first base, resulted in limited playing time for Adams, as there was often nowhere to put him. However, with Carlos Beltran now in Yankee pinstripes and Craig entering 2014 healthy, Adams will have a chance to shine as the Redbirds' everyday first baseman, as Craig will probably move to right field full-time.
Adams has tremendous power and can spray the ball to all fields. He will see plenty of RBI opportunities hitting in the middle of a good Cardinals lineup, and he should thrive, as he hit .329 with runners in scoring position last year. There are a couple things that could cap Adams’s upside. He needs to improve his batting average against lefties (he only hit .231 last season), and cut back on his strikeouts. But Adams could easily hit 30+ homers this year. And if that’s the case, you’re potentially looking at an Adam Dunn type of player who hits for higher average. Sign me up.
Old Reliable Nick Swisher has hit 20+ HR in each of the past nine seasons. Yes, you read that correctly.
Swisher seems like a guy everyone forgets about on draft day, and then when someone picks him up really late, you go “Oh man, Nick Swisher was still available?!” He does nothing particularly flashy, but for close to a decade, Swisher has been putting up decent power numbers and he usually hangs around the .250-.260 batting average mark while driving in 75 runs or so. There’s no reason why that type of consistent production should be falling so far in drafts, even if he's more of a CI than a starting 1B in 12 team leagues.
While the Indians lineup certainly isn't as potent as Swisher’s Yankee squads were a few years ago, there’s some pretty good offense around him. One could argue that Swisher is bound to start declining at some point. While that’s certainly a concern with any player who’s been around as long as Swisher has, his stats would suggest a deterioration isn't imminent. His strikeout rate in 2013 was virtually the same as it’s been his entire career. And Swisher’s 2013 BABIP (.288) was the lowest it’s been the past five seasons, which suggests that he was actually a bit unlucky last year. I predict a bit of a bounce-back year for Swisher.
Remember this guy? Not so long ago, he was a top-ten overall pick.
Obviously, Teixeira has fallen a long way, but he has flown somewhat under the radar this off-season, especially after the Yankees missed the playoffs last year and with the whole A-Rod saga earlier this winter. Teixeira missed, for all intents and purposes, the entire 2013 season, aside from a brief cameo appearance at the beginning of June. So let’s throw last season out.
Teixeira being on this list is based somewhat on a hunch. While his batting average has been in a decline the past five seasons, his power numbers have stayed pretty good. And he’ll be back in the middle of a retooled Yankees lineup, with that short right field porch to play with at Yankee Stadium. You’re probably not touching Teixeira in the first 12 rounds or so, but if you miss out on some of the bigger names at the position and you decide to wait on first basemen, he’s a pretty good option for some cheap power and a decent bet to drive in a good amount of runs.